So you want abs do you? You all know what I’m talking about, that rippling washboard looking thing that according to the magazines is guaranteed to somehow get you a job making 6 figures, that Benz you’ve always wanted in your driveway and just about everything else in between. Maybe this is why I see people hammering out crunches from every which direction and tossing their legs all over trying to get that full package. Or perhaps some people are just trying to build that killer physique, and of course, need some killer abs to go with it. I can respect that and have no problem with people pursuing such a goal, but I do have a problem with how it’s usually pursued. Many people need to change the way they think, here are some truths that could change the way you look at ab training forever.
Truth #1 Crunches and leg raises won’t make your abs pop out
When people first start thinking about ab development, the most popular thing to do is lay down the mat and start pounding out crunches and leg raises. While both exercises have their place they will do nothing, repeat..nothing, for making your abs show more. They will give you more ab strength when done properly, which is generally a good thing, but most of the time they’re not done properly, leg raises especially. I would say that the majority of the people I see doing leg raises shouldn’t be doing them at all. Your abs cannot lift your legs, it is physically impossible because your ab muscles don’t attach to your legs, they run from the bottom of your pelvis to your middle ribs..so what muscles actually conract in order to raise your legs? That would be your hip flexors. The vast majority of people turn leg raises into a hip flexor exercise, not an ab exercise, simply because they lack the strength or the knowledge to do them properly. Your abs do work as a stabilizer in leg raises when done properly (thus the burning sensation) but are not the prime mover of the exercise. Crunches from the floor are rather useless in my opinion as you only work your abs through a partial range of motion, you will get much more bang for your buck doing them on an exercise ball, going into a full stretch with each rep. Either way, no matter how much you do either exercise, they’re not going to make your abs pop out.
Truth #2 Abdominals aren’t your only core muscle
Our midsections consist of much more than just our abs, all have varying functions and all are equally important, overtraining your abs and not training the rest of your core muscles will lead to nothing more than poor posture, a disfunctional core, and eventually..injury. Some other major core muscles are your external and internal obliques, used primarily in rotational movements and your erector spinae which runs all the way from your lower back to the base of your skull..now that is one huge and important muscle and yet who is training it..very few. A strong, functional core will take you a lot farther in life than a dysfunctional overdeveloped set of abs so if you aren’t already, add some rotational and low back movements to your workout.
Truth #3 Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym
Diet, diet, diet..that is the truth about abs, and I don’t mean for you to go buy the newest fad diet book and starve yourself when I say “diet”, quite the opposite really. I’m simply saying that if you want your abs to show, consistent proper nutrition and eating habits is the way there, no buts about it. Every human being who has ever set foot on earth has been blessed with a totally ripped, shredded, washboard in their mid section that could have the weeks laundry coming out looking like new no problem..it’s just a matter of whether we can see it or not. Exercise and resistance training are important yes, and I mean all resistance training not just core training, but without proper diet those abs will not be coming out to play anytime soon.
Truth #4 Men and women, equal but different
There are some obvious differences between how men and women are built..but one that not everyone knows about is that women are meant to carry more body fat than men are, plain and simple. It has to do with child bearing and such and because of it, women have to work much harder to get those abs to show than men do. I know, I know all you women out there right now thinking, “so not fair” and it isn’t fair but it is the way it is. Men can cut down to as low as 3% body fat or so and still be ok, but if women can somehow get their bodyfat to dip below 12% or so some bad things start happening such as loss of bone density and not having their period as the body goes into “emergency” mode. I’m sure some women are thinking, “awesome, I need to try this” but trust me, though I can’t speak from experience..so not worth it. But don’t despair all you women out there, that six pack can still be achieved in a totally healthy way, I’m just getting it out there that it’s a harder and longer journey for most women than it is for men.
So there you have it, if you’re on the quest for that shredded sixer, evaluate your diet and training methods, are you blasting out non stop crunches and all over the map when it comes to your eating habits? Because that’s never going to get you there. Train your whole core, not just your abs, focus on full body, functional movements in the gym, stay active, get that nutrition where it should be and just wait and see what can happen.
Story Added by Matt Mantai on 09th May 2012